Tory civil war strengthens case for stopping Brexit

by Hugo Dixon | 10.09.2018

Hardline Brexiters are right to knife Theresa May’s Chequers plan. But they can’t come up with an honest plan of their own that they are willing to share with the nation.

Steve Baker says today that up to 80 Tory MPs will vote against “Chequers”, leading to a “catastrophic split” in the party unless the prime minister backs down. The former Brexiter minister’s comments come hard on the heels of Boris Johnson’s description of an element of May’s plan – the “Irish backstop” – as a “suicide vest” wrapped around our constitution. He failed to mention that he was part of the Cabinet that agreed the backstop in December.

Johnson’s attack – combined with accusations that his enemies have circulated a dirty dossier about his private life – have triggered a furious row in the Tory party. Two ministers who served under him when he was foreign secretary have launched a counter-attack, as has the chair of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. Several MPs have said they will probably quit the party if he becomes leader.

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The hardline Brexiters say Chequers will turn us into a rule-taker – and that any deal May gets will be even worse than Chequers because she will have to make more concessions to the EU. Johnson says we’d become a “vassal state” – and he has a point.

But the Brexiters can’t agree what to put in its place. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s euphemistically named European Research Group was supposed to publish its own 140-page blueprint this week, but it couldn’t get Johnson to buy into key elements. When details leaked – such as an expeditionary force to defend the Falklands – Rees-Mogg dismissed the report as an “early draft”.

Other elements of the draft include giving away money that we won’t have post-Brexit to the NHS and to fund tax cuts – a theme Johnson picks up in his Telegraph column this morning. Promising to spend money that you don’t have is dishonest politics.

But an even bigger dishonesty is the hardliners’ “solution” to the Irish border problem – pretending they can keep it invisible by conducting customs checks away from the frontier. Despite the lack of a credible solution, they think the EU will agree an ambitious trade deal post-Brexit.

This won’t happen. Instead, if the hardliners manage to drive the negotiations, we will crash out of the EU in the most chaotic Brexit imaginable.

Is there an alternative to the miserable deal the prime minister wants and the chaos the hardliners would bring? Of course there is: ask the people at the end of the talks what they want.

4 Responses to “Tory civil war strengthens case for stopping Brexit”

  • Labour are no different. Corbyn fails to deliver Brexit he will lose the northern MP’s he needs to get into number 10. You know it he knows it and is why he refuses to back a second referendum. People vote REFUSE to accept the 2016 result simple fact. A peoples vote would be deal or not deal when we leave that is a democratic way forward!

  • May must know, and Johnson and his cohorts, if they had half a brain between them, that the EU have certain red lines that cannot be crossed, because it would mean breaching the terms of treaties and regulations, that are the foundation of EU functionality.
    They cannot change decades of agreement to suit one rogue nation.
    The main point is that it is now blindingly obvious that May has no intention whatsoever, of coming to any workable agreement with the EU, she is heading hell bent on a no deal brexit, whatever the cost to the financial and social stability of the UK.
    May is obeying her billionaire paymasters, and will not deviate from her course unless she is unseated, but her idiotic party MP’s do not recognise it and therefore are not making a serious challenge to her leadership.
    The wealthy few that do know, are planning to reap the benefits, and they, like May, have abdicated all moral or political responsibility to the people of the UK.
    We are deeply in the mire, to put it mildly!

  • So you’re fed up with the old hoover; it makes too much noise and doesn’t suck up absolutely everything. So you buy a new hoover from a store, get it home and find that it doesn’t work, so you are entitled to take it back and demand your money back. Whereupon, you can then go to another store and buy a better hoover which works. Brexit is no different, The present plan patently doesn’t work, so chuck it and get another, better, one, or better yet, carry on with the old hoover, which may be last years model, may be a bit clunky, but still works and, moreover, doesn’t cost you more that the electricity to power it.